On a recent Pat Robertson show, the Reverend answered questions emailed from his viewers read to him by a fawning female co-host.
One viewer had a very interesting question: Is there anything "to do" in Heaven? After all, doing nothing for eternity seems, well, boring.
Without hesitating a nanosecond, Robertson half-chuckled his answer, telling the viewer in no uncertain terms that if he thinks he is just going to spend eternity lying in a lounge-chair on a cloud, well, he's got another thing coming. The Lord has a lot of work for him to do, he might give him (the viewer) a planet to manage, there are 200-300 million of them. [Btw, this is not an exaggeration, Robertson actually talked about lounging on a cloud and millions of planets to manage, and lots of work the Lord has for him].
Robertson knows this (and all else) because, as you all know, once a year Robertson spends a day with the Lord. Now, I must admit that I have always found it curious that the Lord, who is the Lord of the entire universe, measures time-cycles by how long it takes for one of his stars, the sun, to orbit the Earth, oh, I mean the Earth to orbit the sun -- sorry, I forgot that we have revised that certitude -- but I am not surprised that the Lord created exactly one planet for every US citizen, so each of us knows that there is an eternity of work in Heaven (and, let's face it, not all of you are going to get there, and some of you are illegal immigrants, and the Lord will be damned if those people are going to get a planet to manage! -- although, Lord knows, they do work cheaply.).
But I was disturbed by Robertson's answer because I always thought that it was the Mormons who received planets to manage in Heaven. Could it be (to employ another of Robertson's rhetorical techniques) that Robertson is, and always has been, a closet Mormon?
And, is Robertson signaling that Romney will take Giuliani's mantle as the anointed one in the 2012 presidential race? All Giuliani had to do was convince Robertson that, while he approved of a woman's right-to-choose, he, Giuiliani, would appoint judges who swore on bibles that they disapproved.
Remember, Romney also supported a woman's right-to-choose when only aborting established pregnancies was in question but, when he had to contemplate embryonic stem cells in freezers that were going to be discarded, that disturbed him theologically and he suddenly, or so it seemed, got religion -- Robertson's. That was not enough for Robertson in 2008, and perhaps he and Romney clashed over who got to manage planets in Heaven. But now that Robertson seems to have adopted Mormonism, they no longer need to divvy up the planets, and Romney is even more opposed to a woman's right to choose if it means using discarded embryos to ease human suffering because Obama lifted the ban on federal funding.
But, I was disturbed for a much more important reason, at least to me. I am loathe to insert myself into denominational disputes, but, I will admit (or should I say "confess" now that Newtie has become Catholic, thanks to the Pope for overlooking his two divorces, three marriages and philandering in betwixt and between them) that I was always relieved to know that Mormons had signed up for the task of planet-management in Heaven and that that could not be assigned willy-nilly. I thought that was because their saints were all "latter-day", and thus had not done the millennia of penance required to lift this burden from their flock. Perhaps I am just incompetent, but I find the task of managing my household and businesses and life sufficiently challenging that the idea of having to manage an entire planet -- well, if that's the deal, I am not sure that Heaven is the place to be.
If that is Heaven, who needs the other place? Sublunary existence suddenly seems very appealing.
I had always thought, Reverend Robertson, that the work and toil and pain and suffering here on planet Earth (and, actually, just a small part of planet Earth for each of us) was the payment/experience we needed so that we qualified for an eternity of ease and relaxation. It doesn't have to be boring -- hell (should I say that?!), I could read extensively, flap a few heavenly wings and travel from one cloud to another without suffering jet lag (and without using up my frequent flyer miles -- but, do I get more miles on Seraphim Airlines?), amuse myself by creating a small miracle (like a Romney volunteering for Afghanistan) now and then by keeping the earthlings on their reverential toes, even an immaculate conception or two -- that could be a blast, but managing a planet is tough and unrewarding work. Until last week, I had always thought that was left to the Mormons, and the rest of us were (blissfully) ineligible.
Come to think of it, God himself (or herself, or itself?) is not exactly doing a hot job of managing this planet, so how could lowly me, or even Heavenly me, be expected to do any better? We've got wars, piracy, diabetes, cancer, poverty, drug-resistant superbugs, John Boehner handing out tobacco-lobbying checks on the House floor, socialism and the prospect of Arnold Schwarzenegger making another film when his time as Governor expires (can't you get him a third term, or a US birth certificate -- anything?).
By the way, I have never figured out whether in Heaven we have free market capitalism (beating the hell out of nature for the grace of God) or pure socialism (from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs)? Do we have to keep fighting it out when we get up there? Have we not already, by virtue (note the word!) of being in Heaven, already won God's grace?
Down here, the goal of individuals in free market capitalism seems to be to do so well that they no longer have to be participants, they can afford everything they can ever need or want millions of times over, and can even enjoy giving it away and doing good deeds. That's what is thrown up to be "Heaven on Earth". What's the economic system in Heaven itself? Is Ponzi in Heaven?
Here's my plea to Pat. Get special dispensation from the Lord to spend another day with him this year, and argue my case that, I submit, is universal (at least on this planet)...leave managing planets to the Mormons, who have signed up for it from birth, and let the rest of us lounge on clouds if we wish. And, can you report back on what the economic system is in Heaven? I would rather not have to say, "I'm dying to know", as that may be too tempting and I need to know the outcome of the other matter before being sanguine about that.
Otherwise, Pat, please tell the Lord when you talk to him: "Heaven Can Wait". (Is that bit of plagiarism enough of a sin to exclude me from heaven? Perhaps, if Robertson were right the other night, not such a bad outcome).
Or, if Mormons will no longer manage planets either, what about Sarah? She can see them from her front porch.